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​Ductal Carcinoma

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What is Ductal Carcinoma In Situ?

Ductal carcinoma in situ (inside) is a Stage 0 non-invasive breast cancer that originates and is contained in the lining of the milk ducts. Ductal carcinoma in situ is the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer.

What is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma?

Invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer, is characterized when the mutated cells spread from the ducts into the breast tissue.

If untreated, invasive ductal carcinoma can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Who's at Risk for Ductal Carcinoma?

Anybody can develop ductal carcinoma, but certain factors may increase your risk, such as:

  • Age over 50
  • Family history of breast and ovarian cancers (in first degree relatives)
  • No pregnancies or first pregnancy after age 30
  • First menstruation (menarche) before age 12
  • One or more pregnancies not followed by breastfeeding

Learn more about the High-Risk Breast Cancer Program at Magee.

Symptoms of Ductal Carcinoma

Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A dimpled, puckered, or "orange-peel" appearance in the skin
  • A hard, immobile lump with irregular edges
  • A nipple that turns inward
  • Fluid — other than breast milk — from the nipple, especially if bloody
  • Red or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark circle of skin around the nipple)

Testing for and Diagnosing Ductal Carcinoma

Experts at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program use a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose and screen for breast cancer, including:

Test Description

Ultrasound (sonography)

  • A noninvasive test using high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time pictures of tumors.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • An imaging technique using a computer, a magnetic field, and radio waves to produce images of the body's soft tissues.

Mammogram with computer-aided detection (CAD)

  • An imaging procedure of the breast using low-energy x-rays to screen for or detect breast cancer and other abnormalities.
  • A digital mammogram uses a phosphor plate, rather than film, to view mammography images.
  • CAD is software that highlights tissue abnormalities in a mammogram.

3D mammogram (tomosynthesis)

  • An imaging tool using low-energy x-rays to create a 3D image of the breasts.

Minimally invasive breast biopsy

  • The use of a needle to extract a tissue sample from the breast to test for cancer cells.

Treating Ductal Carcinoma

If you're diagnosed with ductal carcinoma, treatment will depend on your general health and the results of your tests.

Your doctors and other specialists at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program will work with you to consider your options and determine a course of action.

Treatment Options for Ductal Carcinoma

Surgery is often the primary treatment for breast cancer.

In many cases, we may also recommend additional therapies before (neo adjuvant) or after (adjuvant) surgery to control an aggressive cancer or to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Procedures and treatments for breast cancer may include:

Surgical Procedures
The surgical removal of part of the breast with a cancerous tumor (lumpectomy), breast tissue, or the entire breast. In some cases, lymph nodes are also removed. In rare cases, some of the chest muscles are removed as well.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy
A minimally invasive procedure to remove lymph node tissue in the armpit to check if existing breast cancer is spreading (metastasizing). Women diagnosed with an invasive breast cancer typically undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
Axillary lymph node dissection
Surgery to remove all or a group of lymph nodes in the underarm (axilla), if your sentinel lymph node biopsy is positive for cancer.
Additional Breast Cancer Therapies
The administration of drugs to destroy the growth abilities of cancer cells. It is sometimes used with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy
The use of beams of high-energy waves of ion particles to destroy the growth abilities of cancer cells. External radiation therapy directs rays at the tumor from outside a person's body.
Hormone therapy
The use of drugs that stop the production of certain hormones that the cancer needs to grow.